Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and his wife, Pamela, have tested positive for COVID-19, the governor's office announced Friday.
The couple was tested after a household employee developed symptoms. The governor isn't experiencing any symptoms; First Lady Pamela Northam currently has mild symptoms, according to a press release.
"As I've been reminding Virginians throughout this crisis, COVID-19 is very real and very contagious," Northam said.
Looking ahead to Halloween, Loudoun County, Virginia, is cautioning residents against traditional trick-or-treating because it is a high-risk activity.
Haunted houses, trick-or-treating out of car trunks (trunk-or-treat), hayrides with those outside your household and any kind of parties also have a higher likelihood of getting you exposed to COVID-19.
County officials had some ideas about how to keep the tradition alive. Homes can set up a folding table in the yard and spread candy far apart. Or, they can rig up a candy chute.
Pumpkin carving, socially-distanced outdoor costume parades, touch-free scavenger hunts and decorating your home are all safer ways to celebrate this spooky season.
And of course, maintaining a social distance and wearing a mask will reduce your risk during any activity where you could encounter someone from outside your household.
Loudoun's recommendations are largely in-line with ones put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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What the Data Shows
Aside from the governor contracting COVID-19, there are some positive signs in the overall picture of Virginia’s fight against the virus.
The positivity rate has fallen to an all-time low of 5.1%, which is still higher than Maryland’s (2.51%) and D.C.’s (2.2%).
The seven-day moving average of new cases in Virginia is down to 742. The drop is in large part due to a decline in cases outside of the Northern Virginia region.
Cases in Virginia, excluding Northern Virginia, have declined from 710 to 588 average new cases over the past two weeks. In Northern Virginia, in the same time period, new caseloads declined from 270 to 231.
Seven-day averages in D.C. and Maryland are still stable, currently at 44 and 471 respectively.
In D.C., hospitalizations have climbed to the highest number in two months: 101.
The map below shows the number of coronavirus cases diagnosed per 100,000 residents.
Coronavirus Cases in DC, Maryland and Virginia
COVID-19 cases by population in D.C. and by county in Maryland and Virginia
Local Coronavirus Headlines
- Local school districts in Maryland can choose to start the interscholastic fall athletic season as soon as early October.
- The Fairfax County School Board voted on Tuesday to start hybrid learning next month.
- The Loudoun County school board voted to begin a hybrid learning plan that prioritizes getting younger students back to in-person classes.
- The Smithsonian reopened four more museums to the public beginning on Friday, Sept. 18. Two more are set to reopen on Friday, Sept. 25.
- Five states were added Monday to D.C.'s list of "high-risk" states. Three other states were removed from the list.
- D.C. launched new coronavirus metrics and Mayor Muriel Bowser is set to announce the reopening of certain services in the next two weeks.
- Maryland increased its restaurants' indoor dining capacity from 50% to 75% on Monday.
- The “first reported COVID-19 death of a child in the Commonwealth” was reported Friday by the Virginia Department of Health.
- D.C. Public Schools in mid-September began considering plans that could bring students back to in-person classes by Nov. 9, 2020. The city is also starting to plan how it will administer a COVID-19 vaccine once one is proven effective and made available. Read more.
- The University of Maryland began transitioning to in-person lessons on Monday after the school reported a low campus positivity rate of 0.7%.
- Some D.C. Public Schools students could be back in the classroom as early as this month, the mayor said. Read more.
- Prince George's County will allow tanning salons, banquet halls and other businesses to open with restrictions. It adjusted some other rules on Wednesday, too. Read more.
- Montgomery and Prince George's counties are among those that did not enter phase three with the state of Maryland. Here's a roundup of counties in our area.
- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he has authorized all public schools in the state to begin “safely” reopening because state metrics on the coronavirus show improvements. The state “strongly suggests” that local school districts bring students back into schools but cannot force them to do so, Hogan said. Montgomery and Prince George's schools have both affirmed that they are not altering plans to hold classes online throughout the first half of the school year.
- Private and parochial schools in Maryland can choose when to reopen after a back-and-forth between county health officials and the governor. Read more.
- Prince George's County revisited its phase two reopening executive order due to an uptick in coronavirus cases, according to the county executive's office.
- Virginia entered phase three reopening on July 1, loosening restrictions on restaurants, stores, gyms and pools. Northam has said more restrictions could be implemented if cases continue to grow.
- D.C. entered phase two on June 22, allowing indoor dining, gyms, libraries and houses of worship to reopen with restrictions.
- Montgomery County entered phase two on June 19, reopening with restrictions gyms, houses of worship, indoor dining and retail.
How to Stay Safe
There are ways to lower your risk of catching coronavirus. Here are guidelines from the CDC:
- Anyone over the age of 2 should wear a mask or face covering. Keep it over your nose and mouth.
- Wash your hands often. When you do, scrub with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. As a backup, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with anyone who lives outside your home. That means staying six feet away from anyone outside your circle, even if you're wearing masks.
- Always cover coughs and sneezes.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.